Skip to main content

Meet 5 Des Moines super nerds

There are certain cliches about comic book fans that people cling too that can easily be summed up with the movie title "The 40-Year-Old Virgin." But for the last 15 years, comic books have been the inspiration for some of the highest grossing movies of all time, as well as a growing list of TV series.

Comic books have hit the mainstream, so much so that even Des Moines is getting its own, three-day Wizard World convention with legendary artists like Neal Adams and Michael Golden, as well as big name celebrity guests like William Shatner, Billy Dee Williams and Lou Ferrigno.

That's right, Captain Kirk, The Hulk and Lando freaking Calrissian are coming to town.

And there's a new generation of comic fans who have sprung up as the films have increased in popularity. Here are five super fans we found who are getting inspired by this weekend's Wizard World Comic Con event coming to Des Moines.

Brad Roenfeld, 24

Job: Army National Guard, cashier at Jay's CD & Hobby

His origin as a fan: I was very young, probably seven or eight. I remember seeing a rack of comics at the grocery store. I could not take my eyes off it. I told my mom that I wanted a comic. Right then and there I started getting into superheroes. Everything blossomed from that.

Other nerdy elements: "Star Wars" was one of the first nerd fandoms I got into as a kid, that and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

DC, Marvel or indie? I've always been a strong believer in the Marvel side of things. I read DC as well, but mainly I read books from Dark Horse and Image.

His pull list: "Lazarus," "Abe Sapien," "Black Science," "Copperhead," "Moon Knight," "Punisher," "Deadpool."

Dream acquisition: I have almost all the comics I want right now from the old times. Maybe a signature from one of the authors or artists of the stories I read.

His regular shop: Jay's CD & Hobby. Even before I worked there, I would always go to that store.

Is he going to Wizard World? No, it conflicts with his National Guard training.

Gem of his collection: "New Mutants" #98, the first appearance of Deadpool. "My mom got that for me for my birthday. I know a bunch of copies were made, but I thought it was really cool that my mom knew he was one of my favorite characters.

Loud and proud or secret fan? I've always worn my fandom on my sleeve. The world knew it. I found something I love and wanted to stick with it.

Comic nerds: Brad Roenfeld
Brad Roenfeld discusses why he loves comic books.

Brittney Hawes, 25

Job: Works at West End Salvage

Her origin as a fan: I'm from Idaho and was just walking down the street there and stopped into a building with a comic book store. I hadn't even heard of comic books, I was like 12, but I fell in love with it. I saw Wolverine and thought 'I'll try it out.'

Other nerdy elements: My favorite crazy trilogy is Indiana Jones. That's my No. 1 nerd thing.

DC, Marvel or indie? I'm totally way more into Marvel. I also like indie horror comic books.

Her pull list: "Secret Wars," "Deadpool," anything Wolverine, "And Then Emily Was Gone."

Dream acquisition: I would freak if I could meet Stan Lee, Wes Craven or Clive Barker. I'm excited to meet Ant Lucia at Wizard World.

Her regular shop: Capes Kafe. It's right next door to where I work; that's how I found the place.

Is she going to Wizard World? Yes, I love everything Jason Mewes, I want him to sign my Bluntman doll.

Gems of her collection: My first issue of Wolverine ("Wolverine" #1) is my pride and joy. I also have the wedding of Jean Grey and Scott Summers, I really love that one. Then "Deadpool" #1.

Loud and proud or secret fan? Growing up, I don't think anyone knew. My family was super Catholic and really frowned on it. My husband and I met five years ago and comics is one of the things we bonded on. He loved Deadpool. We can geek together.

Comic nerds: Brittney Hawes
Brittney Hawes discusses why she loves comic books.

Dorian Minter, 24

Job: Works at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage

His origin as a fan: A friend loaned me a Spider-Man comic when I was 16, but I didn't really get into it. My mother likes to go to Collectamania, and when I was there, I saw a Black Panther comic. I grabbed it and fell in love with the character. I've been knee-deep in comics ever since.

Other nerdy elements: I love Star Wars and a little bit of Doctor Who.

DC, Marvel or indie? Marvel all the way.

His pull list: "The Walking Dead," "East of West," "Ultimate Spider-Man," "Deadpool, "Iron Man."

Nerdy dream: Either getting the first appearance of Deadpool or being on the set of the "Deadpool" or "Avengers" movies. It would just be so much fun.

His regular shop: Capes Kafe or Mayhem Comics.

Is he going to Wizard World? I am. I get a lot of indie comics and most of the time cons have local creators. I also like to grab posters and put the characters on my walls.

Gem of his collection: A variant cover of "Deadpool" #11, signed by writer Gerry Duggan.

Loud and proud or secret fan? I wore a Deadpool polo to work today. I try to get my friends at work into comics. I've gotten people you would never expect to start reading comics. I'll hand them the first book of a series and say "Read it and see if you like it." Now I have a small group at work that reads the same comics I do.

Comic nerds: Dorian Minter
Dorian Minter discusses why he loves comic books.

Jessica Calhoun, 26

Job: Elementary school art teacher

Her origin as a fan: It all started in high school. I got into manga and anime and branched out into western comics in college with things like "Scott Pilgrim."

Other nerdy elements: I cosplay and I'm big into "Adventure Time." I'm also a huge fan of Dr. Who. I have an Amy Pond costume I would like to use, I just have to find someone to be the 11th Doctor.

DC, Marvel or indie? I'm more of a Marvel person, but CW shows like "The Flash" and "Arrow" have made me get more interested in DC. I'm a Thor person and you gotta love the X-Men.

Her pull list: "Adventure Time," "Bee and Puppycat."

Nerdy goal: I would really like to either meet or see a panel with Pendleton Ward, the creator of "Adventure Time" or meet Matt Smith, the 11th doctor (I've already seen him in a panel before.) From interviews or other panels, they both seem extremely silly and funny. I think it would be really interesting to even have just a five minute conversation with either of them.

Her regular shop: Capes Kafe. They give me coffee and comics, which is awesome. It fuels two addictions.

Is she going to Wizard World? Yes. I always love a reason to dress up and cosplay, and people watching is the best. I just want a giant nerd fest.

Gems of her collection: I got a limited edition issue of "Bee and Puppycat" for donating to the Kickstarter. I'm big into collecting variant covers, but at the same time I like supporting the comic book artists directly and supporting someone's dream.

Loud and proud or secret fan? I've always kind of worn it on my sleeve. In middle school I was really into Dragonball Z before anime was a big thing, so I would constantly be drawing characters from that in class. I didn't let anyone burst my bubble.

Comic nerds: Jessica Calhoun
Jessica Calhoun discusses why she loves animation.

Sarah Jacobs, 24

Job: Data entry specialist, photographer

Her origin as a fan: It came from my dad and my great uncle on my mom's side. As soon as "Batman: The Animated Series" came on TV, he sat me down and said "You should watch this." My great uncle gave me my first comic, based on the Batman animated series. It was cool to have two big influences get me into comics.

Other nerdy elements: I cosplay. I currently do both the "Arkham City" and animated series versions of Harley Quinn, and I've been Lady Thor, Princess Leia and Joker's Daughter.

DC, Marvel or indie? I was raised on DC and didn't get a lot of exposure to Marvel until I moved to Des Moines for school. My friends and I would swap comics; I would introduce them to DC and they would show what Marvel characters to check out.

Her pull list: "Harley Quinn," "Grayson," "Convergence."

Nerdy goal: I would love to meet ("Batman: The Animated Series" producer) Bruce Timm. Harley Quinn was really his idea. I would love to talk about what an influence she's been to me. It would also be cool to meet Kevin Conroy (the voice of Batman).

Her regular shop: Jay's CD & Hobby in Valley West Mall.

Is she going to Wizard World? Yes. I'm not 100 percent sure what costumes I'll be wearing, other than Saturday I'll be Harley. I'm getting my picture with Robert Englund. Getting the chance to meet the original Freddy Krueger was too good to pass up.

Gems of her collection: A Batman statue my great uncle gave me when I was older has a lot of sentimental value and I have a Harley Quinn hammer I built myself. It's seven-feet tall.

Loud and proud or secret fan? I grew up in a small town and for years I didn't really talk about comics at school. Once I hit high school, being a nerd was OK and I put it out there a little more.

Comic nerds: Sarah Jacobs
Sarah Jacobs discusses why she loves Cosplay.

Wizard World Des Moines

When: 3-8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.

Where: Iowa Events Center, 833 Fifth Ave.

Cost: $35 for Friday, $45 for Saturday, $40 for Sunday (three-day passes are sold out).